Massachusetts Historical Society

Peter Drummey, Chief Historian & Stephen T. Riley Librarian

peter drummeyPeter Drummey is responsible for library outreach and exhibitions at the MHS. Over the course of 35 years, Drummey has assisted more than 50,000 researchers who have visited the MHS and a far larger number from a distance. He has prepared exhibitions, transcribed historical documents, and written manuscript collection guides and subject surveys, including Collecting History, a guide to landmark documents and artifacts in the Society’s collections. In addition, he has contributed book reviews and bibliographic essays to professional and historical journals.

Drummey has served as a technical adviser for documentary films and television programs with historical themes, including the HBO miniseries, John Adams; and as a commentator for BBC, C-Span, PBS, and commercial cable television programs on Charles Dickens in America, Thomas Jefferson, historian Henry Adams, the end of slavery in Massachusetts, the Boston Irish, and, most recently, the Gettysburg Address.

He has been active as an advisor and member of national, regional, and local archival and historical organizations, including friends of libraries groups. A Boston resident with professional knowledge of library preservation, he serves as a board member of the Associates of the Boston Public Library, a nonprofit corporation formed to raise private funds to conserve the immense research collection of that library.

A native of Duxbury, Mass., Drummey attended college and graduate school at Columbia University in New York City. After graduating from the program to train rare book librarians and archivists in the School of Library Service at Columbia, he returned to Massachusetts, where he was the curator of manuscripts at the New England Historic Genealogical Society before joining the staff of the MHS in 1978. Drummey’s personal historical interests center on the era of the First World War, especially the social and technological impact of the war.

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